People Who Inspire Me: A series

My Dad

Mr. Cool was what his friends would call him in his younger days, because he never, ever lost his cool.
Dad remained calm in any situation he found himself in, it didn’t matter if he was being scorned or if someone on the road scratched the paint of his pristine baby, his Toyota RAV 4.
My dad, he sings along to any song on the radio, even if he doesn’t know the song. He drops me off at work every morning and this morning he was singing along to “Wolves” by Selena Gomez and made up his own lyrics to the song.
Say hello to Antonio Fernandes, otherwise known as Dada (solely by my brother and me)
The balance in my life,
The “good” voice in my head,
My closest friend.
When I was 14 I baked a cake for the very first time.

The worst cake ever to be baked in the history of cakes. It was vanilla. It wasn’t burnt but it was a tad bit under baked and the sugar didn’t suffice. It tasted like a bland mass of sweetish bread and I doubt if even birds would feed on it if I threw it out the window.
While my mother rightly pointed out my colossal baking mishap my dad heartily ate a slice of it, said it tasted “great” and pointed out that I should bake more.
Don’t worry, I knew how bad I was. I would never do that to the world. I decided to cross that off from my list of alternate career options.
But Dad, Dad made it seem like the world was mine to grab. That I just had to run a few steps more and stretch my hand as long as I could. And voila, it was mine!
Growing up I loved the outdoors, I loved walking barefoot, even in the rains, I loved the creepy crawlies and I let snails race on my arm, and the snail that left the longest trail of slime was declared the winner!
One summer, Dad arranged for a family holiday to a nature resort somewhere on the border of Goa and Karnataka, a place called Chorla Ghats.
The cottages were built amidst thick forestation hundreds of feet above the ground where all sorts of trees and animals also built their homes. Our cottage was made of wood and when we stood on the balcony we could see a waterfall making sweet music as it danced and shimmied its way to the river hundreds of feet below.
That entire trip I was the happiest little girl in the world!
The day we arrived, we made sure we got some good rest because we had to wake up early, bright and fresh for a trek up the dense forests. We had an amazing guide who talked about all the plants, little birds, the sounds they made, we saw some snakes too, he also told us not to panic in case any leeches caught on to our legs, he assured us that he was well trained to handle it in case someone does get bitten by a leech.
We trekked for quite a while, we walked against the forces of a gentle stream, I also found some porcupine spikes on the forest floor (as explained by our guide) which I stuck in my hair as I imagined I was a child of the forests.
Slowly, as we reached higher, some of the members of our trekking group felt their legs and willpower giving in. For a lot of people, even my family it was the first time.
Our guide explained to us that we had the option of waiting at the foot of the next hill and those who still wanted to trek higher could continue with him. He assured us that another guide would show them the way back.
90% of our group opted to go back, including my mother and my brother, I, on the other hand, knew that I did not want to stop even though I could feel the strain in my muscles, even though my rubber shoes were filled with water, clumps of mud and leaves.

My dad was tired too and I understood if he wanted to go back but I begged him to let me trek higher up with the guide. He realized that he couldn’t let me trek to the highest point even under the care of the guide so finally, it was just me, the guide and my Dad.
Together, we reached the top, a small plateau which couldn’t accommodate more than ten people, I’m assuming.
As Dad and I took in the breathtaking view, the sounds, the sweetest smells and the spirit of the mountain, hundreds of feet above civilization, we noticed we were standing in the middle of a little cloud. Oh if words could only explain the joy in my heart!
I guess I could literally say I was on cloud number 9!

I often see myself taking over other mountains as well, life for one, with bigger, meaner “leeches” and “scary birds” picking on me instead of singing sweet songs. All metaphors of the kind of obstacles life would soon throw my way.
But, I also see myself on top of a little plateau, different plateaus, be it career, a social life, a family or even people who do not want the best for me, I know I will reach my little plateau, with my little cloud, all because my Dad decided to climb with me.

cloud number 9


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